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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Language Planning for a New Order     485
tion during several centuries has not made the speech of New England
unintelligible to people in Old England, or vice versa. Experience should
therefore encourage, rather than discourage, us in pressing for an
international auxiliary.
The primary desiderata of an international auxiliary are two First,
it must be an efficient instrument of communication, embracing both
the simple needs of everyday life and the more exacting ones of techni-
cal discussion Secondly, it must be easy to learn, whatever the home
language of the beginner may be. To be an efficient instrument of
communication it must be free from ambiguities and uncertainties
arising from grammatical usage or verbal definition The vocabulary
must be free from duplication and unnecessary over-lapping It must
shun all that is of purely regional importance The design of it can
turn for guidance to two diverse sources, the pioneer-work of Ogden,
and recognition of defects which vocabularies of hitherto con-
structed languages share with natural speech. We can best see what
characteristics make it easy to learn a constructed language if we first
ask what features of natural languages create difficulties for the be-
ginner. Difficulties may arise from a variety of causes: structural
irregularities, grammatical complexities of small or no functional value,
an abundance of separate words not essential for communication, un-
familianty with word-forms, difficulty of pronunciation or auditory
recognition of certain sounds or sound-groups, and finally conventions
of script
Progress of comparative linguistics and crmasm provoked by suc-
cessive projects for a constructed auxiliary have considerably clarified
these difficulties during the past fifty years Consequently there is a
wide field of general agreement concerning the essential features of
satisfactory design Though several interlaaguages still claim a handful
of enthusiastic supporters, it is probably true to say that most people
who now advocate an artificial language approach the prospect with a
ready ear for new proposals. The plethora of projects touched on in
the preceding chapter should not make us despair of unanimity On
the contrary, failure brings us nearer to accord As Jespersen remarks
in the beginning of his book on his own constructed auxiliary (NomalY
All recent attempts show an unmistakable family likeness, and may
be termed dialects of one and the same type of international language
This shows that just as bicycles and typewriters are now nearly all of the
same type, which was not the case with the earlier makes, we are now in
the matter of interlanguage approaching the time when one standard